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Install Bathtub Grab Bars - A How To Guide

Here you will learn how to install bathtub grab bars for your bathtub.

To be safer in the bathtub, the best grab bars are the ones that attach to the bathroom wall, so we will give instructions for  this type of install., and we will assume that your bathtub surround is tile or some other such material.

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Once you have picked out a bathtub grab bar, you will need to collect the tools needed to install it. The following are the tools you will need:

Philips-head screwdriver
Drill
1/8 inch masonry bit or glass and tile bit
Stud finder or a length of wire
Tape measure
Silicone caulk
Sharp awl or carbide glass and tile drill bit
Wood bit, 1/16 narrower than the size of mounting screws

Locate a Wall Stud

The first thing that you will need to do to install bathtub grab bars is to locate a wall stud. If you have access to a stud finder this will help greatly. While running the stud finder along the wall until a wall stud is located mark the spot with a fine point marker.

If you do not have an electronic stud finder you can find studs another way. Take a 1/8 masonry bit or glass and tile bit and simply drill a hole into the grout.

Next take your length of wire and make a bend in it. Put the wire in the hole and spin it left and right and you should hit a stud. If you still do not locate a stud fill the hole you drilled with a slight bit of silicone caulk. Many times you can choose a caulk color that will match your grout. It is a good idea to flatten the dab of silicone caulk so it does not protrude from the grout line, or if you have powdered grout handy you can mix up a bit and patch the hole. You will have to re-drill another hole until you locate a stud. When you do find a stud you will need to measure 16 inches from that hole and you should be able to drill into another stud.

Mark Stud Locations and Place Grab Bar

You will want to mark your stud locations so that you can measure from the base of the tub to determine the placement of your bar. Place your bar so that each end of the bar is over a stud and mark the screw holes that are in the mounting bracket.

Drill the Mounting Holes

For drilling the mounting holes into tile you will need to make a starting point for the drill bit because the bit may run across the tile if you don't. To make a starting point use a sharp awl or drill bit. Using your hand, twist the instrument to make a slight impression on the tile to keep your bit from slipping.

Do not use a punch because you are likely to crack your tile if you do this. Use the glass and tile bit to drill your hole. If you use a masonry bit, place tape over the tile and drill slowly to avoid shattering the tile.

Since you don’t want to break your tiles when screwing the mounting brackets on use a bit that is 1/32 wider than the size of the mounting screw you will be using. Drill the hole slowly with even pressure so as not to slide off your mark. Use light pressure when drilling to avoid cracking the tile.

Make sure you do not drill deeper than the tile and it's backing. At this point, you will have to change your bit to the wood bit 1/16 narrower than the mounting screw. This will make a pilot hole in the studs.

Mount the Grab Bars

The last step to install bathtub grab bars is to mount the grab bar. To protect the wood and backing boards behind the tiles from leaking water apply silicone caulk to the holes before mounting. Then simply screw the bar to the wall. You will want to use stainless steel screws so they will not rust. Tighten the screws firmly making sure to not over tighten them because they will crack the tile.

You should now have your install bathtub grab bars complete. You can now take a peaceful, relaxing bath and feel safer in the process.

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